Butter Clam

(year round)

Sometimes referred to as the Washington Clam, Martha Washington Clam, or Money Shell

 

The Meat:

Butter clams are delicious buttery mollusks of total wonderment. I can't believe we have them for sale. Wild gathered from Coos Bay Oregon by professional clam divers. (I think that's what I want to be when I grow up). Anything that can be done with a clam can be done with a butter clam. You can eat them raw. You can steam them. You can use them in a chowder. I personally like to eat them raw. But that's me.
 

Prep:

Butter clams have a hard time closing their shells all the way. So if they are a little bit open when you get them that doesn't mean they're dead. Tap the neck of the clam. If it withdraws, or moves a little, it's alive. Some folks like to cut off the dark tip of the siphon (neck).

 

To eat raw, take a sharp knife and cut the clam right down the middle of the two shells. You will then have meat on both sides.  Take your knife and shuck the meat just like you would an oyster, then slurp it down! Yum! Look out ladies! It's nature's viagra!

For chowders, soups, paellas, cioppinos etc: drop them in the pot, steam or bring to a boil, and when the shells open fully they're done. One tip: you may want to chop the clam when it's done cooking, as it's a lot of clam!
 

Health concerns:

All filter feeding bivalves (mussels, clams, oysters, scallops) are potential PSP risks. The area where these clams are gathered in Coos Bay is checked regularly by biologists to ensure a safe product.

Gear and fishery info:

Years ago I actually purchased a California commercial tidal invertebrate permit but was prevented from using it for the capture of wild bivalves. It seems the state did not have the money to set up a rigorous testing program for local bays. So what's a clam aficionado to do? Well... as it turns out, there's a company in Coos Bay Oregon that specializes in the capture of wild clams. All of these clams are also native to the California Coast. So the only Pacific coast gapers, cockles, and butters (aka: Washington clams) currently for sale in California come from this area of Oregon. The butter clams you are receiving were caught by a diver using an air hose to dislodge them from the mud. The resource is considered under-utilized and the populations extremely abundant.

  • Scientific Name:                       Saxidomas gigantea

 

  • Habitat:  They can be found in the intertidal zone, usually buried to a depth of approximately one foot in sandy, gravelly, and mixed-shell substrate.

 

  • Diet: Like most bivalves, it lives a sedentary lifestyle filter-feeding and consuming a diet of phyto-plankton.

 

  • Size: Its shell measures on average three inches in length.

 

  • Range:  occuring along the Pacific coastline of North America from California to Alaska.

 

  • Class: Bivalvia

 

Facts:

2010 - present

2010 - present

Fish Nerdism 101:

Butter clams live to the ripe old age of 20. And can be found from the intertidal zone to off shore waters 40 meters deep. The species ranges from Alaska to San Francisco.

Parting Shots

I really did not know that wild butter clams were commercially available anywhere on earth, so I'm overjoyed to be able to get these clams to you. The only other way to get them is to dig them yourself... which I would be happy to teach you how to do, if you sign up for one of my mega low tide tours in Half Moon Bay.